Elizabeth (Betty) Yoder’s father, hopeful that she would stay in Tifton, Georgia after graduating from Emory University, bought her a car as an incentive. It didn’t work. She sold the car to raise enough money to move to New York City and earn a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University.
New York is where Betty met her husband of fifty-four years, David Yoder. They met at a church social function for singles. It was the first and only singles mixer either of them needed to attend.
David’s work took them to the West Coast, where they settled in Tiburon in 1972. There, they raised their two children, Karen and Alan. When Betty talked of her home, it was Tiburon she was referring to, even after Betty and David moved to Portland, Oregon, in 2015.
The Tiburon bike path was one amenity Betty particularly enjoyed; it was her main exercise outlet. Betty loved jogging, hiking, walking, and yoga. Her family members understood that once Betty began to exercise, interruptions would not be tolerated. In one memorable incident, she stared down a cougar that had the audacity to cross her path during a hike. No “big cat” was going to interfere with her daily exercise.
While Betty’s exercise regime was in part to give her alone time, she truly enjoyed bringing people together. Betty used these social gatherings to learn about and then solve everyone’s problems. Her years as a social worker, including at Marin General, gave her the tools to get people to share the intimate details of their lives. Her years living in the South made sure the people sharing those details were well fed during their confession.
These gatherings were often where Betty’s theatrical side would emerge. She would sing show tunes and tell jokes, but the showstoppers were the wonderfully fantastical storylines she shared about her pets. Betty would give each animal their own voice and personality, keeping everyone laughing around the dinner table, a trait inherited by both her children and all three grandchildren.
Betty’s theatrical side was juxtaposed with her hyper-organized nature. She planned with minute detail, in her Day Timer planners, the lives of her patients and children, while running the household with military efficiency.
For over a decade, Betty lived with Alzheimer’s, which robbed her of her organizational skills captured in those planners. Yet it did not take her essence. When she saw her three “grandbabies,” Ella, Dane, and Rhys, she beamed. Given the opportunity, she made sure everyone was well fed and with a full glass of libations. She greeted friends and strangers alike as “doll” or “doll baby” and parted with, “See you later, alligator. After ’while, crocodile.”
Betty passed away on December 3 and is survived by David, Karen, Alan and her three grandbabies. So please join them in saying, “Bye, Doll” to Betty. Or, if you prefer, “See you later alligator. After ’while crocodile.”